I have read some old discussions about this topic and would like to get some up-to-date advice, if possible.

How can I take math notes, write formulas and draw graphs on my pc (win 7), the easiest and quickest way?

Thanks for your consideration.

  • $\begingroup$ What is wrong with LyX or LaTeX? $\endgroup$ – PrimeNumber Mar 22 '11 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ possible duplicate of What software and/or language to use to take Math lecture notes? $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Mar 22 '11 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Arturo - I don't think it's an exact duplicate. That question leans towards capturing the formulas textually. This one mentions drawing graphs (I'm assuming graphically). $\endgroup$ – uncle brad Mar 22 '11 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ @uncle brad: Fair enough; I confess I have no answers to give to either question, but if people don't agree it's a duplicate, then my vote to close will not prosper and do nothing. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Mar 22 '11 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ The easiest way to write math on a PC is to close the laptop, put a piece of paper on top of it, and take out a pen or pencil. $\endgroup$ – KCd Mar 22 '11 at 21:13

I recommend using Mathematica. The student edition was around $130 the last time I checked, and it's well worth it (if you're not a student, the home edition runs around twice that). Formulas are easier to write than in LaTeX, and you have the option of saving as LaTeX, as well as HTML, postscript, plaintext, rich text, and a few other formats. You also have the option of easily being able to play around with the math and see how it works, which you usually can't do outside of math programs very easily.

Mathematica is designed for notes, and there are already many (Mathematica) notebooks out there that allow you to play around with the math, very easily. I also recommend using a paint program running alongside Mathematica, such as Windows Paint Shop or something similar. This allows you to quickly draw a complicated diagram with all kinds of options, such as colors and effects, that are usually hard to do on paper. You can quickly add in pictures into your Mathematica notes, and their are additional options allowing further manipulations of the pictures in Mathematica.

It's easy to quickly make copies of your notebooks and play around with specific things in each copy. It's generally how I take notes, ESPECIALLY IF I'M IN A HURRY.

If you're planning on sharing you notes, you may prefer to use LaTeX if you feel that you're comfortable with enough time to use it. Generally I convert my Mathematica notebooks in LaTeX and then PDF when I'm sharing something with someone that doesn't have Mathematica. This, however, is generally reserved for when I'm going to make an important presentation, and I have enough time to really make the notes look pretty. However, simply converting Mathematica notebooks into another format is usually good enough, or even preferred if the presentation doesn't have to be spectacular.

  • $\begingroup$ thank you for your interesting reply Matt! can I ask you a favour? could you please share some notes of yours in order to have a practical idea about what can be done with Mathematica, before buying ? thanks Matt. $\endgroup$ – iAsk Mar 22 '11 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Matt: Does Mathematica make readable LaTeX? I would rather suggest to learn $\LaTeX$ properly. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Teuwen Mar 22 '11 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ @iAsk: It will be hard to see what Mathematica can do without trying it out. I know that they had trial editions available for students for around $25-50. I find those links if you're interested... I'll look for a good example in the meantime... @Jonas: Mathematica sometimes places the text very close, but it's easily readable. There are pluses/minuses to both...Mathematica is much faster to enter in formulas, but there are not as many options as LaTeX has for formatting. $\endgroup$ – Matt Groff Mar 22 '11 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ You can catch a glimpse of Mathematica if you go to Mathematica.com, which redirects to Wolfram.com. It shows some pictures of what a few lines of code can create. You may want to check out the Demonstrations project link on the main page, which links to like 5,000 different demonstrations. You should give a try searching for things you're interested in there. Chances are that you can probably find a project that demonstrates what you are or will be learning. I'll keep trying to think of some good ways to get a feel of it. There is also (competitor)Maple, which I think is more expensive. $\endgroup$ – Matt Groff Mar 22 '11 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ Here's the link to a FREE 15 day trial: wolfram.com/mathematica/trial There's also a 30-day trial for its competitor, maple, here: maplesoft.com/contact/webforms/maple_evaluation.aspx I recommend trying them both out to get a feel for taking notes with them. It will hopefully give you some good ideas. $\endgroup$ – Matt Groff Mar 22 '11 at 23:55

I have been going back to review my calculus and differential equations for myself. I was using Lyx and LaTex for a while but it is slow and tedious to learn(for me). I will say that if you are willing use Microsoft OneNote install the math plugin which you can download from MS(free) also install the Microsoft Graphing Calculator software (also free) where you can create graphs and solve various equations. I was able to do a proof with differential equations to solve the Pythagorean Theorem for a test and it works great. The proof also contained a picture of the problem. BUT for really heavy Math or Engineering crunching you may need to look at professional software like MCAD or Mathematica. Good luck.

  • $\begingroup$ LaTeX is in a league of its own. No toy for Word comes even remotely close. Stick to it, or write by hand and transcribe later. $\endgroup$ – vonbrand May 6 '13 at 0:30

A simple solution I found for windows 7 and windows 8 users is to use math input panel with another program like word.




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